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Our approach

The MDBA has a strong compliance and enforcement program to help deter illegal activity, and drive compliance with the Basin Plan.

This proactive approach includes activities such as detection (using technology such as remote sensing), auditing and investigating reports of alleged non-compliance. When non-compliance is identified, it will be addressed appropriately. The MDBA identifies and promotes good practice by preparing guidelines and practice notes on relevant aspects of water management and performance. The MDBA's compliance priorities contribute to the MDBA's annual compliance work program.

The MDBA's position on enforcement action has regard to:

  • Compliance with water resource plans  The MDBA will use its full suite of enforcement options to ensure compliance with Water Resource Plans, in particular the Sustainable Diversion Limits, and the protection of held and planned environmental water.
  • Illegal water take   The MDBA seeks to ensure that Basin States' compliance and enforcement frameworks are effective.  MDBA will use its audit powers to verify state performance.  If a Basin State is found not to be taking adequate action against allegations of illegal take, the MDBA will investigate and if necessary, take direct enforcement action.  
  • Compliance with the water trade rules  The MDBA will use its enforcement powers as necessary to encourage a 'level playing field' in the various water markets across the Basin.

Download the MDBA's Compliance and Enforcement Policy

Download the MDBA's 2018 – 19 Compliance Priorities

Basin-Wide Compliance Review

In 2017, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and an Independent Panel conducted a Basin-wide Compliance Review at the request of the Australian Government, to assess the legislative, policy and practical implementation of compliance in water management across the Basin.

The MDBA and Independent Panel subsequently released separate reports, including actions that the MDBA is committed to, and recommendations for governments to consider.  The review found compliance systems and activities in some jurisdictions are more effective than in others. All Basin state regulators need to be more active, consistent and transparent in enforcing compliance.

The review recommended a range of actions to be undertaken by all Basin jurisdictions, including:

  • A 'no meter, no pump' policy
  • more transparent compliance policies
  • reporting of compliance actions
  • more effective penalty regimes.

The review also recommended that governments focus on the development of good quality water resources plans and meet the 30 June 2019 deadline. The plans should include arrangements to ensure adequate protection of environmental flows.

The review found that the MDBA must be more assertive in performing its compliance and enforcement role across the Basin.

All relevant recommendations to the MDBA have been adopted.

More Information

Read a summary of key actions undertaken by the MDBA

Download the Basin wide compliance review